Regarding the Use of Kneelers on Buses

A2019-02: Regarding the Use of Kneelers on Buses

Adopted In : 2019

Topics : Transportation

WHEREAS, blind residents of Minnesota's cities commonly use public transportation on a daily basis to travel to places of employment, to do shopping, and to participate in countless other social and business activities in our communities; and

WHEREAS, at bus stops, blind travelers rely on sound to identify the number of the bus (via verbal announcements), to locate the entrance of the bus, and to gather other needed information; and

Whereas, many buses used by public transit providers in Minnesota have the capability for the front of the bus to be lowered (kneeled) so that the step at the entrance is positioned closer to the ground; and

WHEREAS, the kneeling of the bus is usually accompanied by a loud beeping and hissing sound (louder outside the bus than inside it), which last several seconds and can mask the announcement of the bus number and the sounds coming from the entrance of the bus, followed by another several seconds of beeping and hissing while the bus is raised again; and

WHEREAS, no doubt under the impression that they are being helpful, many drivers, while not using the kneeler at most stops, will activate the kneeler whenever they see a blind person waiting at the bus stop—sometimes even before determining that the blind person wishes to board that particular bus; and

WHEREAS, on daily commutes or occasional trips, the obstruction of the sounds of verbal announcements or of the bus entrance can cause the blind person to need to pause until the kneeler sound stops, thereby slowing down the boarding process unnecessarily; and

WHEREAS, although some blind people do have other walking-related disabilities which make the activation of the kneeler beneficial, other blind people have different disabilities, like hearing loss, which make the kneeler and its accompanying loud sound downright disorienting and problematic; and

WHEREAS, a brief conversation between driver and passenger is generally a much more precise and time-efficient method of determining and providing any needed assistance, as exemplified by the documentation of some transit providers[i] which encourages passengers to "feel comfortable asking for the bus to be kneeled": now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in Convention assembled this 27th day of October, 2019, in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota, that this organization call upon public transit providers in the state of Minnesota to emphasize in their policies and in their driver training that blindness does not correlate with the need for a bus to be kneeled and can, in fact, make activation of the kneeler undesirable because of the associated loud sounds; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge transit providers to work with the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota to refine their policies and training around blindness and to find solutions for reducing the noise caused by the bus kneelers.


[i] Se Minnesota Valley Transit Authority's page on riders with disabilities:

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